I feel that in a former life I must have been a chameleon. I love bright, vivid colors. I like to climb on things, and move slowly, purposefully. I also admire the awareness of a chameleon, and the ability to beautifully assimilate to different environments while still maintaining sense of self. In other words, if a chameleon were a person, he would have many identities; he would be one that wears many hats.
A fundamental theme in Far from the Tree is the celebration of differences. We each start with a set of vertical identities, and through the course of our lives discover and develop these horizontal identities, which are treated as flaws. I think Solomon is suggesting we all try to be a bit more chameleon-like regarding individuals who are different than we are.
Although a chameleon changes his colors to adapt to a new environment, he doesn’t change his shape. All chameleons look relatively the same: like lizards. Humans are highly similar; we all look like humans in basic shape and form. Chameleons display individual differences in pigment change, and it’s always beautiful. Why do we as humans have difficulty finding beauty in the differences of other individuals so much like ourselves?
A chameleon doesn’t complain about his environment, he doesn’t try to control or alter it. He simply accepts it, and adapts.